When the thousands come to Memphis to remember the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., they’ll see where the statues were. They might even ask what was supposed to be on those fenced in blocks of granite. That’s when they’ll hear the stories of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Jefferson Davis in Memphis.
The Confederate statues have been gone for more than three months, no longer the focus of attention on Poplar Avenue or Front Street. Instead, just reminders of what once was. Reminders of what will be again, if the organization Sons of Confederate Veterans has its way.
Lee Millar with the SCV says “Oh, we’re in it for the long haul. I’m tired of the city’s attitude of tearing down history every chance they get, but we are in it for the long haul. The city is wrong, and we are going after them.”
The city of Memphis has lawyers and others and they aren’t talking. As far as they’re concerned, when the parks and statues were sold last December, that ended their involvement in the whole controversy.
But a judge ordered mediation; a meeting between the city, Memphis Greenspace, the group that bought the parks and statues, and Sons of Confederate Veterans. They met one time.
Lee Millar says his group had an idea, a way to not keep the statues but not take away from the Doctor King 50th anniversary events.
“We agreed,” he said, “… that they (the statues) would stay down during the MLK 50 celebrations. Everybody in the city can celebrate that MLK week, and then the statues can go back up afterwards. But the city refused to consider it.”
If there is no compromise on the horizon, and Millar says there isn’t, then it is time to see a judge.
“We still have two court cases against the city and Greenspace, and we’re just waiting on court dates now,” he said.
Late Monday afternoon, Van Turner of Memphis Greenspace disputed Lee Millar’s information to Local 24. Turner says there was no mention of any plan by the Sons of Confederate Veterans about leaving statues stored until after the MLK50 events and then putting them back. No agreements were reached, and no future mediation has been scheduled.